Primary industries and mining make up the core basis of the electorate economy. It has a diversity of industries, people and businesses, covering extensive sugar-cane production along its highly fertile eastern seaboard and on the Atherton Tableland, to cattle, dairy, fruit, sheep and the massive mineral deposits of the Mount Isa and surrounding area.
The banana industry is estimated to be worth $350 million to Far North Queensland and is one of the major employers, attracting thousands of backpackers – who in turn stimulate the tourism sector – each year. Around 85 percent of Australia’s bananas are grown in the Innisfail/Tully region.
Other tropical fruits grown in Kennedy include paw paws, mangoes, lychees, pineapples, rambutans and mangosteens.
The vast plains of north-west Queensland are home to many thousands of beef cattle, bred for domestic and export markets.
The Kennedy electorate is home to nearly 20 per cent of Queensland’s 11 million beef cattle. However the loss of abattoirs north of Townsville has put strain on this industry.
Malanda is the dairy capital of North Queensland churning out around 70 million litres of milk each year, sourced from about 60 local farms. The factory was opened in the early 1900s and dairy quickly became one of the major industries for the developing Atherton Tablelands.
Kennedy contains some of the world’s riches mineral deposits, mining zinc, lead, copper, gold, silver and magnetite, among others.
Most of Queensland’s base metal production is from the north-west mineral province. More than 350,000 tonnes of copper a year is sourced from the Kennedy electorate and there are said to be large untouched mineral deposits throughout North Queensland.
Sugar remains one of Australia’s most valuable export commodities, with approximately 30 percent of Australia’s sugar cane grown and crushed in the Kennedy electorate.
There are seven sugar mills in Kennedy: Victoria (Ingham), Macknade (near Ingham), South Johnstone (Innisfail), Tully, Babinda and Mulgrave (Gordonvale).
Sugarcane was initially planted in the region in the early 1880s with the first mill opened at Mourilyan in 1882.